The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday denounced the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an move that U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said would cause Washington to rethink its financial support of the international organization.
In a 128-9 vote, the UNGA passed a resolution, drafted by Egypt, that expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”
The resolution calls for Jerusalem’s final status to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. It also affirms that any decisions and actions that “purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem” — a thinly veiled reference to President Donald Trump’s recognition — are “null and void.”
In a speech ahead of the vote, Haley tore into the general assembly countries, accusing them of anti-Israel bias and a lack of respect for the U.S. and its financial contributions to the U.N. She warned that the Trump administration would keep the vote in mind when U.N. countries ask for assistance in the future.
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley said. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
The vote in the general assembly came three days after the U.S. vetoed the same resolution in a vote within the 15-member U.N. security council. After blocking the security council resolution, Trump suggested Wednesday that a general assembly vote against his Jerusalem decision could affect “billions of dollars” in U.S. foreign aid.
“Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot,” he said. “We don’t care. This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.”
Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month and initiated plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed city. Though the move broke with longstanding U.S. policy, it did make good on one of Trump’s campaign promises, an assurance also made by every U.S. president going back to former President Bill Clinton.
The Trump administration has called the policy change a “reflection of reality” about Jerusalem’s status and says it will not affect the U.S. commitment to brokering talks that lead to a Palestinian state.
Israel has always claimed Jerusalem as its undivided capital, and the city has been the seat of Israeli government since the Jewish state was founded in 1948. Palestinians and other Arabs consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and under U.N. resolutions, the disputed city’s final borders are to be determined through negotiated peace settlement.
Thursday’s vote was something of a symbolic victory for Palestinian and other Arab leaders, who had condemned Trump’s decision and called on the international community to rebuke the U.S.
However, the resolution garnered much less support than its backers had originally sought, with 35 countries — including Canada and Australia — abstaining from the vote.
The eight other countries that voted against the resolution along with the U.S. were Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo.
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